Luminous Landscape Forum

The Art of Photography => Street Showcase => Topic started by: Martin Kristiansen on June 14, 2018, 07:54:31 AM

Title: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Martin Kristiansen on June 14, 2018, 07:54:31 AM
A filthy winter morning in Joburg. Going to head to head with one of the notorious minibus taxis. They are a law unto themselves on our streets and gun battles for the right to operate certain routes are a weekly occurrence. between rival organisations.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Telecaster on June 15, 2018, 03:32:59 PM
That's some serious haze. Reminds me of a hiking trip years ago in the Modoc National Forest area (California) during an El NiŮo. Spectacular sunrises & sunsets.

-Dave-
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Ivo_B on June 15, 2018, 04:13:00 PM
Great shot!
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Martin Kristiansen on June 18, 2018, 08:37:53 AM
Thank you.

We get almost no rain the entire winter. It gets very dry then at a point the grass starts to burn. That coupled with this being the largest industrial area on the continent leads to a lot of haze in the cold mornings. Skyís get a very dark blue and polarizers start to look silly.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: RSL on June 18, 2018, 09:11:58 AM
And this is street photography because there's a street in it?
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Martin Kristiansen on June 18, 2018, 09:22:21 AM
And this is street photography because there's a street in it?

Are you still banging on about that? Itís street photography because where I live dealing with public transport in the form of these very dangerous and aggressively driven taxis takes on an importance that might not be immediately obvious to people living in first world counties. Lives are lived and lost in taxis as millions of people commute in them each day. People traveling in from townships smothered in smoke from open fires, townships that were established as labour reserves by apartheid era legislation. Some people have carefully dressed old hippies drinking craft beer at street cafes. Some of us have this stuff. Sorry about that.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: RSL on June 18, 2018, 09:46:36 AM
Martin, I'm not criticizing your photograph. It's a fine shot. It's just in the wrong place. It belongs either in The Coffee Corner along with your written statement -- roughly the one to which I'm replying -- or in User Critiques. It's pretty good photojournalism along with your description.

And yes, I guess I'm gonna continue "banging on about that." For a while I let it go, but then I realized that if LuLa posters are as ignorant about street photography as it seems they are, then we need to get rid of the Street Showcase. At the moment it's anything but a street showcase, and it's a shame to push that kind of ignorance and lead people unfamiliar with the genre to believe this kind of thing is street photography.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Martin Kristiansen on June 18, 2018, 10:03:01 AM
Well Russ I happen to disagree with you. I have looked at many definitions and watched many YouTube videos.I have looked at many books.  I have also looked at many of the photos by people you quite rightly say invented the genre and then see that so much of what they shot would not pass your definition. Pictures by Bresson of Ghandi for example. Photos by Bresson of South East Asian peasant farmers. I have not found a fully coherent definition of street in fact.

When I am out on the streeets shooting what fascinates me and often risking my life and my gear in an attempt to show what exists in the public spaces around me then I consider that street photography.

If the owners and moderators of this forum would rather I didnít post my work, and they tell me so, then without argument and without anger I will thank them for their input and I will move on. Until then I will continue to post what I consider relevant. Perhaps some will enjoy it, perhaps many will consider the images without merit. All I can say is I am being honest to my feelings and my story. If you get nothing from the photos simply donít look at them.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: RSL on June 18, 2018, 10:49:59 AM
Martin, HCB's pictures of Ghandi never were put forward as street photography. They're photojournalism, which HCB quite rightly said they were. Most of his real street photography was made well before he and the others founded Magnum and he became a photojournalist. At that point Robert Capa advised him to call himself a photojournalist, and that's what he did. And of course you're right: The people who defined street photography shot a lot of stuff besides street photography. I do the same thing even though street is my favorite thing.

As far as a fully coherent definition of street photography is concerned, if you're talking about a definition in words you'll never see such a thing. The problem is in the name attached to the genre: "street." Anyone ignorant of the photography that defined the genre is certain to misunderstand what the term implies. We really need a better name for photographs that show the often subtle significance of interactions between humans, other humans and their surroundings, but at this late date it ain't gonna happen.

It's not a question of posting or not posting, and it's quite clear that nobody at LuLa is going to tell you to stop posting your photographs. The problem isn't with the photographs. You do good work. The problem is with the definition of a genre. And my problem at this point is that keeping the Street Showcase segment on LuLa is simply adding to the general ignorance about what street photography really is.

I don't know whether or not you ever saw this, but you might find it interesting: https://luminous-landscape.com/on-street-photography/
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Martin Kristiansen on June 18, 2018, 01:55:16 PM
Well thank you Russ. Please understand I have no desire to offend you or anyone else. However I have no problem disagreeing and I am able to do that without any heated emotion.

My primary issue with so much of what I am pointed to as authentic ďstreetĒ, and this is my personal issue, is I find it very often vacuous. I see little passion and little interesting. Privilaged hipsters hanging out in gentrified neighborhoods, random people crossing the street at traffic lights, the obligatory homeless person. I donít get a narrative. I donít see a point. I donít feel I learnt anything about the place photographed or outbout myself.

Yes that is harsh. I am not referring to people on the forum necessarily, I look at a tremendous number of images on a daily basis. I think street has such potential, such power. But it seems stuck up its own rear end so very often.

Then the issue of a definition of street. You yourself say itís almost impossible to define but you know it when you see it and you know whatís not it when you see it. That is extraordinarily subjective. My life experiences are very different to most people on this forum. Surely could that result in me seeing it very differently?
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: RSL on June 18, 2018, 03:26:06 PM
I don't think we're terribly far apart on any of this, Martin. As you know, I have no problem disagreeing, and I can do it without heat too.

The problem you're pointing to is the fact that there's good street and there's bad street, just as there's good landscape and bad landscape and good portraiture and bad portraiture. Yes, I see the hipsters hanging out in gentrified neighborhoods and meaningless pictures of people crossing the street at traffic lights too, even in books that pretend to define the genre. The pictures of homeless people just tick me off. It's so, so easy to shoot meaningless pictures of pathetic hoboes, and people who do that are after the easy way out. And I don't think what you're saying is harsh. To me, the classic repository of this kind of garbage is Jackie Higgins's 2014 book, The World Atlas of Street Photography. There are others, but that one tops the pile.

But what about THIS (https://thumbs-prod.si-cdn.com/CBbv9Lj-FATq8xOsU82CJJrXDw8=/fit-in/1072x0/https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/9e/1e/9e1e5a6f-bc09-4345-a17e-8dcdd059df84/main_los_angeles_california_1969_winograndedit.jpg)? This is one of my favorites from Garry Winogrand. It's nothing like a hobo picture or hipsters hanging out or who-cares pictures of people crossing at a light. This is real street photography, the kind of thing that defines the genre. It's powerful, unfortunately powerful in a sad way. But real street can be powerful in a happy way, in a reflective way, or in a funny way. For funny check Helen Levitt. If you've seen enough of Winogrand's street work or Robert Frank's street work or Levitt's street work you'll know real street when you see it too. In case you didn't check the reference I gave you, I've attached one of my own. This is not a hipster or someone crossing the street. It's not part of the urban scene. It's something that stirs reflection in me just as Winogrand's picture stirs reflection in me. That's what real street is for.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Martin Kristiansen on June 19, 2018, 12:43:05 AM
Thanks for a very productive discussion Russ. I wish to continue with it and will post more later today. Essentially I do think we agree with most points. I have Franks famous book and know it quite well.

Right now I have bills to pay so itís flat shots of clothing, copy work of century old mining maps showing the gold bearing reeefs and catalogue work of industrial lighting. Exciting stuff I know.

To be continued.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: fredjeang2 on June 19, 2018, 04:17:22 AM
...It's something that stirs reflection in me just as Winogrand's picture stirs reflection in me. That's what real street is for.
Yes! Great photo by the way.

Ps: I can't cope with those endless homeless people pics taken on the fly, or the clichťs of the wealphy tourist in Chandernagor, the orientalist/exotic factor.
Any tourist shooting in Cuba will get the very same pics of those 50's tuned cars with Napoles facades where there is no
ĒmessageĒ nor any reflection involved whatsoever. Tons of meaningless.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Martin Kristiansen on June 19, 2018, 07:27:55 AM
This was shot from a coffee shop in a part of downtown where a half baked process of gentrification is underway. I would call this "proper" street.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: RSL on June 19, 2018, 10:08:23 AM
It's certainly street, Martin. But I'm not sure I get the message it's trying to convey.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Martin Kristiansen on June 19, 2018, 10:17:15 AM
Of course you donít. Because art of all things is always culturally based and often references culturally significant moments and history. South Africans understand this image. It speaks of separation, apartheid, privilege. I had a very strong response to this photo from different groups in South Africa. People responding to the deliberate  marginalisation of Black people that took place over centuries. 

My point is you can not impose a North American standard on what we are dealing with in our streets. Just as I donít get so much of street photography I see from first world countries despite having lived, long ago, in the US and Europe.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Martin Kristiansen on June 19, 2018, 10:28:34 AM
How about this?

Cant be street because the subject saw me and reacted to me right? But if the intention is to photograph people in their interactions on the street then surely the reaction to a photographer is also a reaction. A man living rough on the streets see me and in this area a white skin is very very rare, especially at the time of day this was shot. Whites make up 8% of the population but in this area less than half a percent. I am carrying a camera worth more than this man makes in a year. I am immediately spotted and approached. That is an authentic experience. A chance for him to interact with a rare thing. A chance for me to interact with a person totally removed from my normal circle. Its fascinating. How does he stand? What posture does he take? it all speaks volumes. Human interaction. Neither of us know how it will go. I hope to show some of that in my photo.

Why pretend Im not there?
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: RSL on June 19, 2018, 10:32:35 AM
Of course you donít. Because art of all things is always culturally based and often references culturally significant moments and history. South Africans understand this image. It speaks of separation, apartheid, privilege. I had a very strong response to this photo from different groups in South Africa. People responding to the deliberate  marginalisation of Black people that took place over centuries. 

My point is you can not impose a North American standard on what we are dealing with in our streets. Just as I donít get so much of street photography I see from first world countries despite having lived, long ago, in the US and Europe.

Fair enough, Martin. And yes, I agree that art is culturally based. Took me a long time and three years in Asia to begin to understand what's going on in Asian art, and even now I'm only on the periphery of that understanding. But what I miss is what makes this picture speak of separation, apartheid, or privilege. Is it the fact that we're looking through a fence? Is it because the man's face is split by a vertical bar? Is it because the woman is carrying a bag? Some ambiguity helps, but 100% ambiguity doesn't. I can believe that the picture resonates with South Africans, but I think the best art makes an attempt at universality.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Martin Kristiansen on June 19, 2018, 11:00:45 AM
It is a window with burglar bars. The black man is outside excluded. Apartheid wouldnít allow blacks into buildings with whites in social areas, it was against the law, now we exclude people based on class but obviously not based on legal but economic consideration. That is pretty universal I think. Burglar bars represent a lot in Africa due to crime and suspicion. They are resented and are everywhere. Safety blankets almost.

I agree that art needs to try to be universal. I suspect this image would resonate with most Africans, 1,2 billion people. I suppose I might miss some North Americans. I donít suppose they are my primary audience. I only posted this as an example of how cultural differences might lead us to interpret a genre differently. How we might miss things due to cultural differences. We have to pick our audience.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: RSL on June 19, 2018, 12:11:47 PM
How about this?

Cant be street because the subject saw me and reacted to me right? But if the intention is to photograph people in their interactions on the street then surely the reaction to a photographer is also a reaction. A man living rough on the streets see me and in this area a white skin is very very rare, especially at the time of day this was shot. Whites make up 8% of the population but in this area less than half a percent. I am carrying a camera worth more than this man makes in a year. I am immediately spotted and approached. That is an authentic experience. A chance for him to interact with a rare thing. A chance for me to interact with a person totally removed from my normal circle. Its fascinating. How does he stand? What posture does he take? it all speaks volumes. Human interaction. Neither of us know how it will go. I hope to show some of that in my photo.

Why pretend Im not there?

It's still street, Martin. If you're trying to shoot a situation where two or more people are relating to each other in some way, and one or more suddenly sees you ready to shoot the picture, that changes the relationship you were trying to record, and you've lost your chance to make what you set out to make. But if a single subject reacts to your presence the way this guy is reacting I don't know that I'd rule it out as street. The interaction is between you and him. I see plenty of situations in Helen Levitt's street photography where a subject reacts to her camera. There's a classic one, which I can't find at the moment, so can't give you a link, of a guy posing and doing a little dance when he sees her raise the camera.

HERE's (https://goo.gl/images/GJHd7S) one of HCB's shots that resulted in him being chased. It's certainly a street shot.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: 32BT on June 19, 2018, 12:57:53 PM
My point is you can not impose a North American standard on what we are dealing with in our streets. Just as I donít get so much of street photography I see from first world countries despite having lived, long ago, in the US and Europe.

I want to respectfully but forcefully negate your assertion. The essence of poetry doesn't change because the language changes. Art is in fact one of the most powerful media we have to cross cultural divides.

Granted, i don't get the original image, possibly because of cultural differences, but i do believe that the best art expressions are precisely deemded art because they transcend those boundaries; that they might help an unsuspecting viewer with a different cultural background to become aware.

None of the images does that for me so far, but that may well be my intellectual limitation.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Martin Kristiansen on June 19, 2018, 01:38:18 PM
The assertion that art must be universal calls into question the purpose of art. Art requires an audience and perhaps what the artist wishes to say is specific to a particular audience. I donít believe the sole purpose of art is to cross cultural divides. It can be more pointed than that.

I think you are conflating the search for universal archetypes with art and in this case photography. I see photography as a powerful means of communication. If I am attempting to wake privilaged South Africans to the gritty reality of public transport form distant dormitory townships then it is my right to attempt to do so. If I wish to comment on the long history of racial division and cultural appropriation and that is not understood by people who have shared non of those experiences then so be it. If my aim was to communicate those concepts to a broader audience I could do that but I would have to abandon many of the subtleties I prefer to use.

I will give an example. In parts of the US depicting black people with watermelons is a painful racial stereotype. The watermelon could be used to make a powerful statement. A statement that would be utterly incomprehensible to a South African. There are many powerful symbols that can be used in art that simply do not translate from one society to another.

Poetry also translates badly in many cases.  I speak two languages and can recite poems in Afrikaans that simply do not translate. The words lose the dusty guttural harshness that carry so much hidden meaning.

If you wish to create cross cultural images then I totally respect that. I wish you every success with it. And thatís honest. I prefer to tell my stories in my own dialect. Sometimes people will get what Iím saying, if they are on my wavelength so to speak, and thatís a treat. If not that is also fine with me.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Martin Kristiansen on June 19, 2018, 01:40:42 PM
I respectfully thank everyone who has offered opinions on this thread. Thank you for your thoughts and your time. It has been both informative and valuable to me.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: fredjeang2 on June 19, 2018, 01:45:32 PM
We're not so unique. Patterns repeat themselves.
Cultural codes are only a particular conditionning, certainly not an essence
Of mindkind whose drama, expectations, sadness, joy, problems, are the same
Everywhere, under different costumes and fetishes.
Therefore, there are universal languages such as images or music.
I'm writting in english, it's not my native language which is french.
If I don't learn english, I can't communicate with you.
However I can communicate with the world with images without the need to be explained.
But, photography is also a language to be learned in order to, instead of
Sharing meaningless content, being worth.
So in the end, instead of learning good english to use words, I need to learn how to make good photos
To use image so that the receiver does not necessarly have to possess cultural references to
ĒunderstandĒ, be moved or questionned. There is really nothing to be understood. It's just about whitnessing.

In other words, bad photography is the equivalent of: yf i writ too yu in inglish lique dis.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: 32BT on June 19, 2018, 02:44:25 PM
I think of myself as a reasonably educated individual, i am aware of segregation and apartheid. I think i can reasonably empathise with human condition to understand the impact. This means i could be looking at an image and assert that it might be a powerful representation of said condition, in a documentary sort of way.

What "street" photography does, in my opinion, is elevate that depiction into a story and therefore makes the idiosyncracies clear to an average viewer, and that usually means it appeals to universal concepts.

The latter is missing in the original taxi image. It depicts cars in a moody light. Moody, not aggressive. That moody light is likely a more-or-less universal element, it doesn't suddenly turn into "aggressive" just because the viewer is also from SA. It doesn't contain a story in some way, like the story that is added by the text.

I'm very much an advocate of art=communication and as with normal language skills we do not just use random words in random sentences just because we feel like they are appropriate, which is more akin to tourrette syndrom.

Moreover, if we establish a general concept like Haiku in poetry, and then make a forum specifically for Haiku, it seems rather odd to post sonnets there instead. It doesn't mean they are bad poems, but they might not receive the appreciation they perhaps deserve.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: fredjeang2 on June 19, 2018, 03:05:26 PM
I think of myself as a reasonably educated individual, i am aware of segregation and apartheid. I think i can reasonably empathise with human condition to understand the impact. This means i could be looking at an image and assert that it might be a powerful representation of said condition, in a documentary sort of way.

What "street" photography does, in my opinion, is elevate that depiction into a story and therefore makes the idiosyncracies clear to an average viewer, and that usually means it appeals to universal concepts.

The latter is missing in the original taxi image. It depicts cars in a moody light. Moody, not aggressive. That moody light is likely a more-or-less universal element, it doesn't suddenly turn into "aggressive" just because the viewer is also from SA. It doesn't contain a story in some way, like the story that is added by the text.

I'm very much an advocate of art=communication and as with normal language skills we do not just use random words in random sentences just because we feel like they are appropriate, which is more akin to tourrette syndrom.

Moreover, if we establish a general concept like Haiku in poetry, and then make a forum specifically for Haiku, it seems rather odd to post sonnets there instead. It doesn't mean they are bad poems, but they might not receive the appreciation they perhaps deserve.
Exactly, and it's at that point when things are getting really difficult.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: RSL on June 19, 2018, 03:09:29 PM
Moreover, if we establish a general concept like Haiku in poetry, and then make a forum specifically for Haiku, it seems rather odd to post sonnets there instead. It doesn't mean they are bad poems, but they might not receive the appreciation they perhaps deserve.

Well said, my friend. It's exactly what I've been trying to say from the day this segment of LuLa was started, but I never said it nearly as well as you just said it. Thank you.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: fredjeang2 on June 19, 2018, 03:43:55 PM
Well said, my friend. It's exactly what I've been trying to say from the day this segment of LuLa was started, but I never said it nearly as well as you just said it. Thank you.
Yeah but it was sort of predictible that was going to happen, because from what I saw elsewhere, this is not a Lula's idiosyncrasy. I must say that it also happens in fashion, as Rob could confirm.
Many so-called fashion photos shared over the net have everything to do except with fashion. Fashion is not about beautifull boys and girls, it's about clothes and clothes is not just about dressing (just like saying food is just about filling the stomach).
I guess you have to give time to this section to self-mature or autoregulates. I see it as a positive initiative, even if many-most of the shots presented aren't really street but would rather belong to a "without prejudice" thread.
It has always surprised me that LuLa didn't have a dedicated street forum in the past.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: RSL on June 19, 2018, 04:06:44 PM
We'll just have to hope for the best, Fred. I always was surprised LuLa didn't have a street forum. Now I'm surprised at what I see in it. But you're right, let's press on and see if we can get things to settle down. I do a lot of different stuff, but to me street is the most important reason to own a camera.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Martin Kristiansen on June 19, 2018, 04:25:06 PM
I think of myself as a reasonably educated individual, i am aware of segregation and apartheid. I think i can reasonably empathise with human condition to understand the impact. This means i could be looking at an image and assert that it might be a powerful representation of said condition, in a documentary sort of way.

What "street" photography does, in my opinion, is elevate that depiction into a story and therefore makes the idiosyncracies clear to an average viewer, and that usually means it appeals to universal concepts.

The latter is missing in the original taxi image. It depicts cars in a moody light. Moody, not aggressive. That moody light is likely a more-or-less universal element, it doesn't suddenly turn into "aggressive" just because the viewer is also from SA. It doesn't contain a story in some way, like the story that is added by the text.

I'm very much an advocate of art=communication and as with normal language skills we do not just use random words in random sentences just because we feel like they are appropriate, which is more akin to tourrette syndrom.

Moreover, if we establish a general concept like Haiku in poetry, and then make a forum specifically for Haiku, it seems rather odd to post sonnets there instead. It doesn't mean they are bad poems, but they might not receive the appreciation they perhaps deserve.

If we establish a general concept like haiku is a bit misleading in this case. A poor analogy I believe since a haiku is very rigidly defined. 5-7-5. Sonnets also have a clearly defined structure while the defenders of street photography have yet to offer any real definition. The closest we have come is advice such as ďcheck out this guyĒ, I did, or ďI know it when I see itĒ. Thatís fair enough as a starting point but remains fatally subjective. Not like a haiku where we can quickly decide after counting the syllables. You also suggest that the idiosyncrasies or story should be clear to the average viewer. Would you offer that as a step towards a definition? The image must be understandable to the average viewer? Not arguing just seeking clarity.

To be blunt I am suspicious of universal concepts. Seems to me there are exceptions to everything. Nothing is understood by everyone and no one understands everything. Perhaps the striving for universal concepts is the thing I am missing here. I believe it to be impossible but perhaps the closer we get the more successful?

I am actually more interested in the cultural differences than universal archetypes. Sure I agree there are things that cut across cultural boundaries. Love, hate, fear of death, suspicion of differences. I just think different cultures describe these things differently. The signs are different. For example the taxi image. I quite like it but itís not a favorite of mine. Itís kind of interesting to me. I had a certain reaction from local people towards the image. People thought I was nuts to be in the middle of the road with a taxi bearing down. On several occasions these taxis have deliberately run down traffic police. Most of them are armed with illegal firearms. My mother and sister were caught in gun battle between several taxis about 15years ago 500m from where this photo was taken. So you see itís cultural. I donít understand cowboy hats. You donít see the danger in the taxi. Itís why so many tourists get killed by elephants and other animals. The dangers are not recognized. When I was in New York many years ago I wondered into a virtually empty video store looking for a video. A bunch of tough looking guys basically told me to get lost when I tried to hire a video. Apparently it was a crack den. My American girl friend had a fir when I told her about it. I never picked up the signs. Actually that was Brooklyn I seem to remember.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Rayyan on June 20, 2018, 01:18:01 AM

I have to agree with Martin in that cultural background has a very big role in what one understands as ' art ' or a particular genre of ' art '. Certain ' things ' might , and do , cross cultural boundaries; but that assertion has to be taken with a big lump of salt. Art = communication. Again a false equivalence; communication by its very nature is regional. And obviously different forms and means of communication have evolved; but that evolution was/is regionally based

A certain culture might dominate, due to its economic/military/intellectual prowess. And as such, through time its culture might influence an existing culture somewhere else. And it is that domination that some refer to as ' universal '. And this intoxication of dominance which allows one, erroneously imho, to proclaim that one's ' art ' form is, or should be viewed and accepted, as universal.

I did my schooling, university, post-graduate studies and early employment in the ' western ' world. I am pretty much acquainted with its norms, customs etc. ' Art ' there is not necessarily understood or perceived as such in my part of the world. And vice versa.

That is not to ascribe a ' good ' or ' bad ' label to one or the other. Just that each is different. And certain aspects share common understandings.
Ascribing a ' universal ' label is both pretentious and very patronizing.

Also, any form of communication has relevance to the time period in which such communication takes place; besides its cultural dependency.
Maybe what is being referred to as universal is not ' art ' but some emotion expressed in that medium. And that too, is very much culture and region dependent.

' if you don't understand it ', you are uneducated!! ' Street ' should be such and such. As practiced by so and so.
 An often regurgitated mantra that belies something much more sinister. Even if that might not be the intention.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Martin Kristiansen on June 20, 2018, 01:41:06 AM
Thank you Fursan. You very clearly extended my point and put it very well. A dominant culture doesnít see its self as a culture neccesraliy. It sees itself as jut the way things are. I remember joking with a coworker in Florida when he asked me what I first noticed about the US and I borrowed from a comedian and told him I noticed all Americans have a funny accent. He didnít even laugh. He looked puzzled and said that I was the one with the accent. Point of view isnít it?


To break the mold a little, for those who are interested in work done by people not based in Europe or North America have a look at Ho Fan, a Chinese photographer. I love his work. Guy Tillim, a South African who has had international gallery success. He started out doing more reportage stuff but his latest work shot on the streets of large African cities would fit into the street category I think. And then Peter Hugo just for fun. Not street I suppose but his hyena men of Nigeria is very interesting.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: 32BT on June 20, 2018, 04:15:06 AM

A certain culture might dominate, due to its economic/military/intellectual prowess. And as such, through time its culture might influence an existing culture somewhere else. And it is that domination that some refer to as ' universal '. And this intoxication of dominance which allows one, erroneously imho, to proclaim that one's ' art ' form is, or should be viewed and accepted, as universal.

Well, fortunately that is not what i was referring to. We human beings have a lot in common, which is exactly why language and translation works in the first place, especially across cultural divides. That includes pictorial storytelling. Trying to concentrate on the differences as being an insurmountable gap in understanding each other is clearly a red herring and not very constructive.

Art = communication is a tautology, at least for the artform under discussion, and even though there may be rules involved, they are, just as with any language, mostly intuitive and not obvious or determinate. You know a well-formed sentence when you read one, but most of us don't have a clue why it is well-formed.

However, in order to break the rules you first need to know the rules. In Art as in language that is an intuitive process, and if a lot of people tell you something doesn't fit the bill (just yet) then it may be time to reevaluate what you're doing, and not try to reevaluate the rules by merely dismissing them as cultural oppression or whatever.

And mind you: by "a lot of people" i don't mean us morons here on the forum. If you find a large group of people or even an entire country that totally "gets" your photography, by all means, exploit that relationship to the full extent.


Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Rayyan on June 20, 2018, 06:55:38 AM

Of course we have a lot in common. But not all.
And that is exactly why ' translation ' does not work in many place. One needs to understand the nuances of a culture.

No-one ever mentioned differences as being insurmountable. Injecting and referencing to unmentioned ideas is the real red herring and is neither constructive nor contributory to understanding.

Art= communication is a repetition. Serves no other purpose. Language rules can never be intuitive unless one has specifically devoted considerable time and spent considerable effort to a language different than one's own. And especially across cultural divides.And, as much as some might be surprised, rules in certain languages are determinate. Recognizing a well formed sentence in certain Languages and cultures and knowledge of why it is well formed is well understood. Maybe not necessarily in your culture. That is why cultural dependency is important, not only in Language but so in picture telling.

Even sign language can be misunderstood..really!!

I agree that some need to reevaluate what they are doing. Not become robots and try to parrot what is being said within a certain group. If not, one ends up coming across as a frog in his/her little pond croaking that that is what the world is; or should be.

And if by a lot of people you mean us morons that belong to this forum, but from a different culture, you are just repeating what most of the group on this form might believe. And if you find a large group of people that 'gets ' your interpretation on the intricacies of your language, art, and/or knowledge; then more power to you.

But there shall be dissenters; now and again. Contend with them in a civil manner.

Well, fortunately that is not what i was referring to. We human beings have a lot in common, which is exactly why language and translation works in the first place, especially across cultural divides. That includes pictorial storytelling. Trying to concentrate on the differences as being an insurmountable gap in understanding each other is clearly a red herring and not very constructive.

Art = communication is a tautology, at least for the artform under discussion, and even though there may be rules involved, they are, just as with any language, mostly intuitive and not obvious or determinate. You know a well-formed sentence when you read one, but most of us don't have a clue why it is well-formed.

However, in order to break the rules you first need to know the rules. In Art as in language that is an intuitive process, and if a lot of people tell you something doesn't fit the bill (just yet) then it may be time to reevaluate what you're doing, and not try to reevaluate the rules by merely dismissing them as cultural oppression or whatever.

And mind you: by "a lot of people" i don't mean us morons here on the forum. If you find a large group of people or even an entire country that totally "gets" your photography, by all means, exploit that relationship to the full extent.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Martin Kristiansen on June 20, 2018, 07:34:36 AM
Speaking of cultural differences. Some cultures write from left to right, some from right to left, some top left down. Seems insignificant but consider the following. Placing an object up against the left side of an image creates a different feeeling to placing it on the right. For those of us that read left to right an object on the left easily creates the feeling of entering a frame. On the right of leaving a frame. Frequently a object can be placed on the right to stop the eye drifting out of frame and direct it back to the centre of the image, thatís not as important on the left side of the frame. For people that read right to left the composition would need to be reversed to give an equivalent feeling compositionally. This is a well documented and acknowledged phenomena.

Colours are also read differently. Go to China and notice that most business signs are in red, itís a lucky colour, I see red as danger.

Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Riaan van Wyk on June 20, 2018, 02:15:09 PM
Are you still banging on about that? Itís street photography because where I live...snip

Where you live has no bearing on the photograph Martin. Same as having had to climb a mountain and nearly freezing to death to take a pic of a pretty sunset has on the pic of that sunset The viewer doesn't care.



Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Martin Kristiansen on June 20, 2018, 02:50:23 PM
Where you live has no bearing on the photograph Martin. Same as having had to climb a mountain and nearly freezing to death to take a pic of a pretty sunset has on the pic of that sunset The viewer doesn't care.

You entirely missed my point and quoted a single line out of context. The point of the thread, and the image, for me was to attempt to illustrate how different cultures read different events and objects differently due to context and life experiences. Anyone who hasnít had to contend with taxis in Joburg is unlikely to understand their cultural significance. If a photograph was made essentially to speak to a Joburg audience then less has to be said or shown because we can assume the audience will understand better what is implied and needs less to be directly shown. I assume from you name, perhaps incorrectly that you understand what makes people in Joburg tense about taxis. 

Itís actually interesting because to me this is so obvious as to be self evident yet so many disagree with me. Who knew?

Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Ivophoto on June 20, 2018, 03:15:18 PM
Iím with you Martin, I find the objections made against your point of view lacking realism.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: RSL on June 20, 2018, 03:24:41 PM
Iím with you Martin, I find the objections made against your point of view lacking realism.

There's another unsupported generalization, Ivo. Please explain what you mean by an objection lacking realism. Please give an example.


Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Ivophoto on June 20, 2018, 03:46:59 PM
There's another unsupported generalization, Ivo. Please explain what you mean by an objection lacking realism. Please give an example.

I tried to have fair discussions with you, Russ, with no succŤs. You use forum semantics, I can not compete on this level of crooked logics.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: JNB_Rare on June 20, 2018, 04:06:42 PM
Martin, I would not have intuited anything ominous from your original image. But I can understand how it might immediately resonate with SA/Johannesburg viewers. My wife has a long-time friend who moved to South Africa with her Italian husband, both to teach. They have two children (young men, now), born and raised there. Each year she creates a "Christmas letter" for friends and family in Canada and elsewhere in the world. Each year there is at least one mention of  a break-in, or mugging, attempted car-jacking or threat that her family/friends/colleagues have experienced (fortunately, not with any serious consequences for her family so far). She mentions them casually, without emotion, matter-of-fact. We read them with alarm, and wonder why she stays. But there are things she loves about where she lives, and she has no plans to move, or buy a flame-throwing Mercedes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLhWzMOccTg).
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Tony Jay on June 20, 2018, 07:09:57 PM
Where you live has no bearing on the photograph Martin. Same as having had to climb a mountain and nearly freezing to death to take a pic of a pretty sunset has on the pic of that sunset The viewer doesn't care.
Have to agree with Martin here...

Riaan, your example here just does not stack up since the photographer freezing to death is NOT the subject of the image (unless that was what was shot, of course!)

However, the minibuses in Martin's image are the express subject of the image, and given the non-universal implications of those vehicles on a road in urban South Africa as opposed to the same vehicles on a road in Europe or North America, an explanation is definitely in order.

The fact is that as a South African I don't need the explanation, but everyone else would...
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Martin Kristiansen on June 21, 2018, 12:58:41 AM
In other words you don't really have an example. It's just a feeling.

Well you asked for that Russ. Itís like your definition of street, sort of a feeling
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Martin Kristiansen on June 21, 2018, 01:04:45 AM
Itís good to see a de South Africans getting involved. We have some stunning landscapes and a treasure trove of possibilities regarding street photography whatever that may be (SPWTMB). Wildlife pretty good as well I would say.

Iím also enjoying the input from people who donít have English as a first language and from people that are not from Europe and North America. Gives a different point of view.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Riaan van Wyk on June 21, 2018, 10:28:48 AM
You entirely missed my point and quoted a single line out of context. The point of the thread, and the image, for me was to attempt to illustrate how different cultures read different events and objects differently due to context and life experiences. Anyone who hasnít had to contend with taxis in Joburg is unlikely to understand their cultural significance. If a photograph was made essentially to speak to a Joburg audience then less has to be said or shown because we can assume the audience will understand better what is implied and needs less to be directly shown. I assume from you name, perhaps incorrectly that you understand what makes people in Joburg tense about taxis. 

Itís actually interesting because to me this is so obvious as to be self evident yet so many disagree with me. Who knew?

Martin, I am South African and still see this only as a photo of a taxi in lovely hazy sunlight, cultural significance or not. I realy don't know what else I am supposed to see.







Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Martin Kristiansen on June 21, 2018, 10:38:49 AM
Martin, I am South African and still see this only as a photo of a taxi in lovely hazy sunlight, cultural significance or not. I realy don't know what else I am supposed to see.

Then see that. No problem.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: Chris Kern on June 21, 2018, 11:07:12 AM
Iím also enjoying the input from people who donít have English as a first language and from people that are not from Europe and North America. Gives a different point of view.

Yes!  One of the best things about this forum is its international character.  The exposure it offers its participants to different perspectives is quite the opposite of what happens within the "echo chambers" of personal-affinity sites like Facebook.
Title: Re: Minibus Taxi
Post by: RSL on June 21, 2018, 03:45:54 PM
I tried to have fair discussions with you, Russ, with no succŤs. You use forum semantics, I can not compete on this level of crooked logics.

In other words you don't really have an example. It's just a feeling.

(This one came up out of sequence yesterday.)